High court judgement on 50swomen pension’s cannot stand – Jocelynne Scutt tells CEDAW People’s Tribunal

Dr Jocelynne Scutt

The president of the Cedaw People’s Tribunal, and a former judge, Jocelynne Scutt, said today that the decision by the Court of Appeal to turn down the judicial review into the handling of the rise of the pension age for 50s women will be overturned.

She was commenting on evidence to the tribunal from Christine Cooper, chair of accounting at Edinburgh Business School on the plight of 50s women and how CEDAR could redress the issue. She was giving evidence in a personal capacity.

Christine Cooper pointed out that the ruling -part based on the fact that the 1995 legislation allowed the Department for Work and Pensions to say they had no obligation to tell the 3.8 million women about changes to their pension would have wider implications for the rest of government policy if it was applied in other areas. For this reason alone it is likely to be challenged in other cases.

If the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW) was part of UK law it would seen as discrimination against a particular group on that ground alone.

Christine Coooer

Christine Cooper strongly defended the 50swomen saying ; ” This is a group of women who did all what was expected of them in society, brought up families and went back to work when they could. The way they have been treated is mad.”

She said if the government had spent the £6.5 million on an advertising campaign to get people to take out a second private pension instead on informing women about the change in 2001 they would have been more prepared. Instead it had only spent £80,000 47,000 leaflets many going to private finance advisers – the people who were most likely to know about it anyway. She said the worst affected people were those who were in low paid jobs, single women, divorced women, women from ethnic minorities and those who had worked part time.

She it was clear that there had been no impact study in 1995 on the effect it could have on the women and the impact study which covered the 2011 Pensions Act was based on how men would be affected. Most women only had months notice – while men had seven years notice of the rise in the pension age from 65 to 66.

She also revealed that the DWP does not keep any information on the gender pay gap ,the gap between the pension earnings of women and men. Instead a survey is done by Prospect, a Whitehall trade union, which revealed that the difference has remained stubbornly at 40 per cent for the last five years -meaning men will get a pension worth £7,500 more than women.

Occupational pension pots for women aged 65 are at present £35,800 – a fifth of the figure for men at the same age.

Government pressure to get trade deals will hit women’s pay – former civil servant

Janet Veitch- former civil servant with extensive knowledge of CEDAW

A former senior civil servant warned that both Brexit and the hostile environment against migrants were going to have a disproportionate effect on women’s rights.

Janet Veitch OBE  is a consultant in the UK and internationally on women’s rights, having worked for ten years for the UK Ministers for Women and as Director of the UK Women’s National Commission.

She is a founder member of the End Violence Against Women Coalition; Vice-Chair of ‘Equally Ours’ and an associate adviser on gender for the British Council. Janet was awarded the OBE for services to women’s rights in 2011.

Janet Veitch said that the UK leaving a market of 500 million people would profoundly affect the British economy because it had yet to find alternative markets. Pressure to get trade deals would lead to a downward pressure on wages and labour conditions, which would predominately affect women, as many were already in low paid jobs.

The ” hostile environment ” against migrants would also lead people to start to condone a critical attitudes against people who looked visually different to themselves. CEDAW might not be a complete panacea but it would force the government to do due diligence on a host of issues.

Horrendous statistics on how women are treated over maternity leave and costly child care

Joeli Brearley – campaigner on maternity rights

A horrendous picture of discrimination against pregnant women was outlined by Joeli Brearley to the tribunal.

Joeil,founder and CEO of ‘Pregnant Then Screwed’, a charity which protects and supports women who encounter pregnancy; maternity discrimination and lobbies the Government for legislative change. This was after being sacked when she was four months pregnant.  Joeli was awarded the 2019 Northern Power Women ‘’Agent of Change’’; and is an International Women Human Rights Defender.

She described the appalling position of pregnant women who were often sacked by employers but then found they could get no redress under the employment tribunal system She said they had, while heavily pregnant only three months to lodge a case, found it would cost them £8000 to do so and many had no knowledge of the law. As a result there were very few cases.

She said women were hit by two major issues -facing pay cuts if they lost their jobs as they had to seek part time work on low pay – and paying for the second most expensive child care costs in Europe.

Typical child care costs took 33 per cent of their salary while single mothers, it took 67 per cent of their earnings. The difference between maternity leave and male parental leave of just two weeks meant only three per cent of men took a major part in looking after the new born baby, even though many more men would have liked to do it. Those who did had a 40 per cent more chance of staying together.

She said the situation had worsened during the Covid 19 pandemic. She thought CEDAW would make a big difference.

Loneliness and misery for women in rural Britain

Nick Newland

Poor transport and health services, loneliness in the remote areas of the UK were all part of the problems facing women in rural England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Nick Newland is from the Association of Country Women Worldwide The organisation exists to amplify the voices of rural women, so that the problems they face and the solutions they raise are heard and acknowledged by international policy-makers and legislators. Rural women are the backbone of families/communities but they go unheard
in legislation, and they remain unprotected and unsupported. ACWW exists to change that.

He hoped CEDAW would lead to women have a much greater say in rural areas – and not just in the odd focus group -so they could get change in their area. He said transport was a major problem for many women – though it was better in Scotland and Wales than England.

He cited an example of one woman living in Monmouth who had to spend seven hours travelling to get a 15 minute jab against Covid 19 in Newport because of the bus timetable.

He also said that loneliness and isolation of women was a major issue – and had been made worse for women by the raising of the pension age. He said getting health care was also a big issue and there was a serious mental health crisis in rural Britain – some times aggravated by their farmer partners committing suicide. There were also cases of brain damage among women who had tried to commit suicide but had not succeeded.

” There is a desperate need for a national strategy , a better quality of life and equality for women in education and health.”

” We have already got one Pakistani here , we can’t take another one” – women’s refuge owner

Rosie Lewis at TUC backed rally

Rosie Lewis is Director of the Angelou Centre , Newcastle supporting the organisation’s services for Black women and girl survivors and has been involved in social justice activism for more than 25 years.

She has given evidence to CEDAW and to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in order to ensure that the findings of both reflect the state response to violence against Black and minority ethnic women and girls. 

An appalling picture of the treatment of women from ethnic minorities now migrant women and children had been excluded deliberately by the government from new domestic abuse legislation was given by Rosie Lewis

She said they were now being excluded from access to justice, help from specialists and many professional organisations no longer want to know or help them. She cited the case of one woman fleeing a forced marriage being told by the person running a women’s refuge, ” We already have one Pakistani here, we can’t take another one.”

She said a city like Durham now had no specialist organisation that could help people in the surrounding rural areas.

She thought if the UK did adopt CEDAW in UK law it would raise awareness, and improve access to services for ethnic minorities.

Other witnesses.

There was also evidence given today from Catherine Casserley, a barrister specialising in employment, discrimination, and Human Rights law. Co author of ‘Disability Discrimination Claims: An Adviser’s Handbook’. She said CEDAW would make a big difference to the plight of disabled women, including increasing awareness, creating a willingness to change and give a proactive approach to achieving equality.

Cris McCurley, who studied Law at the University of Essex and is a Partner in Ben Hoare Bell LLP; and a member of The Law Society’s Access to Justice Committee. gave some damning evidence of the treatment judges gave in family courts towards ethnic minorities.

Rebecca J. Cook from Toronto University who has made a contribution to international women’s rights as an author, legal educator, editor, lecturer, and participant in numerous conferences sponsored by such organizations as the World Health Organization and Planned Parenthood. She gave a video interview on abortion issues facing women.

Lisa Gormley from the LSE Women’s Peace and Security Policy, gave a talk on violence against women and the role of the Istanbul Convention, which the UK has yet to sign up.

She is an international lawyer specialising in equality for women and girls. She has also worked closely for several years with the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences Lisa a legal adviser in Amnesty International’s International Secretariat (2000-2014).

Finally there was also a video from Professor Diane Elson and Mary-Ann Stephenson analysing how much the government spends on women and the huge pay gap between women and men.

Mary-Ann is the Director of the Women’s Budget Group and has worked for women’s equality and human rights for over twenty years as a campaigner, researcher and trainer. She was previously Director of the Fawcett Society and a Commissioner on the Women’s National Commission.

Professor Diane Elson is Emeritus Professor at University of Essex; member of the UN Committee for Development Policy; and consultant to UN Women.  She has served as  Vice-President of the International Association for Feminist Economics and as a member of G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council (2018).  She one of the pioneers of gender analysis of government budgets.

28 thoughts on “High court judgement on 50swomen pension’s cannot stand – Jocelynne Scutt tells CEDAW People’s Tribunal

  1. It’s interesting reading, but doesn’t address the problem of back to 60 for women. I should be retiring this year and have nothing in a pension pit…. If we had known in 2008 that this change was going to happen we’d never invested in a business. My husband is now unwell (67) and according to HMRC I will not receive my pension util I’m 68. I will be dead by then given the work available to me. Just what the Government wants. They have destroyed our hopes and dreams for a last chance of a bit of fun.

    Frances Macleman

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thankyou David for keeping us informed it is crystal clear that women are discriminated against all the way accross the board and I hope this cedaw tribunal doesn’t fall on deaf ears in parliament like women’s rights always do….. but thankypu David and Cedaw and back to 60 for all your
    Support and all you are doing it is very much appreciated by many many women out there who have been kicked in the teeth too many times now. excuse me if I am not sounding too optimistic… but fingers crossed for better days.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s about time that the Government admit that 50’s women were treated unfairly and pay us what they owe us. They can find money for all sorts of people but the ladies concerned have been robbed and this is causing distress to so many people . We have all worked long and hard for our pension that we believed would come to us at 60 now we’re having to work much longer to make ends meet. It’s a disgrace !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank You David again for keeping us updated, it is blatantly clear there has been and still is Discrimination against women I pray that CEDAW get this sorted for us women.

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  5. I still can’ t come to terms with the fact Men born the same year as Women born in1951/53 are on the New High Rate Post April 6th 2016 ,but the Women born in 1952 are assessed on the Old Pre April 6 th 2016..Rate Chr.approx. £40 a week higher for Men
    Men born had contributions paid for them
    Women born in 1952 did not.
    Women born between 1951 and 1952 inclusive had very short notice that their Pension age was rising up to 3 years longer .
    I just hope this has been recognised that Women have been treated differently and discriminated against ,in this respect. I hope the Ombudsman has been made aware of the very early 1950s born Womens plight

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    • I also was born 1956 and went to work at 15 took time off to have my children and then became carer to my father with terminal cancer and later also my mother always expected my pension at 60 and am now relying on my children to help me with bills and shopping. It feels shameful so I am begging for my pension

      Liked by 1 person

      • Can’t you claim another benefit (until you are eligible for SP benefit) then you wouldn’t need to ask your children for help? If you are out of work,or ill, or in low paid work, you may be eligible for universal credit. If you have paid national insurance, in the last couple of years, you may be eligible for job seekers allowance, or ESA, if unable to work due to ill health. Have you looked into help with rent and council tax too? I haven’t worked for several years, I now get SP, but, prior to that, I claimed benefits & I haven’t needed to ask my son for help.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I was born in 1956 so I have 1 year left till I am 66 , sometimes I think I am wishing my life away like probably all the ladies feel the same, I have always worked since I left school at 15 only time off was to have my children, in the mean time I have had 3 strokes and finding it very hard, my pension would mean so much, I was never ever told I wouldn’t get my pension as is the same of us all, I feel that we have been treated very bad , I don’t think the government are interested in us , I am sure they could find a way of helping us , but I doubt this will ever happen it will all be pushed under the carpet, rant over .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: High court judgement on 50swomen pension’s cannot stand – Jocelynne Scutt tells CEDAW People’s Tribunal | sdbast

  8. So good to see the facts being set out . The disadvantage and discrimination against women over such a long period is now highlighted .
    The fight of the 1950’s women is one effect of this entrenched disadvantage suffered by women in this country and no doubt many others . The simple biology is the starting point , most care is delivered by women . This care is unpaid and unrecognised. Also Women have been second class citizens in employment terms for ever . Our courts and political system have failed women consistently. Keep fighting the truth will surely be exposed .

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I hope justice will be served to the millions of women in this country that have worked there entire lives for there state pension to have it ripped away from them without any prior notice to do anything about it and the people or person that implement such a despicable act to be held accountable for there actions then and only then will I be able to say justices has been served good luck everybody x

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  10. Many thanks for your report on the Cedaw tribunal David…. Let’s hope Cedaw have more clout than other avenues have. We 1950’s women KNOW we’ve been shafted….let’s face it, parliament know too. The whole point is….they’ve been found out, don’t like it & will try every trick in the book to avoid any form of admittance!! We will see what transpires from Cedaw’s input. 3.5 million women need the right result x

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  11. If it was a private company people would be claiming for miss selling we brought up children many paying a married woman national insurance as only part time we didn’t have the child care they have now seems so unfair especially when pension age goes up with 20 years plus notice obviously they realise they’ve made a big mistake but won’t admit it

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  12. The President of the Appeal Court is also a political figure of some sort, called Master of the Rolls, and he spent so much of the court case talking politics.

    The worst and stupid question he specifically asked is burned on my memory, of What was the detriment to the ladies?

    What!

    And the lady judge said some women don’t need the state pension, lying again that it is a benefit. It is the National Insurance pension.

    Admin Grey Swans pension group is seeking help to start an Over 50s party, subtitled From Cradle to Grave. Political designation democratic socialist, but focused on domestic issues.

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    • I watched the CoA session and whilst I don’t agree with the verdict I didn’t hear anything political from the Master of the Rolls.

      I also don’t feel it helps accusing “the lady judge” of lying when she said the state pension is a benefit. It’s a Contributory Benefit and always has been.

      Let’s stick to facts please. It doesn’t help to mislead anyone.

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  13. Thank you David! I would be happy or should I say happier if they came to a compromise and met us half way and paid us 50’s women our pension at age 63!! Obviously I agree with all the comments that this is an absolute disgrace and should never have happened (I rant about it on a daily basis as it seems practically everyone in this country has been given government money EXCEPT us 50’s women!!) but I do not have the belief anymore that we will get this overturned so this compromise to 63yrs would be a godsend and a shorter light at the end of a long tunnel.

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  14. As far as I’m concerned, I see the increase in the pension age as a breach of contract. I entered into a contract at age 15 paying into national INSURANCE., expecting to receive my pension at age 60. If that had been a private insurance policy and the company had changed the policy towards the end of the term, it would be a breach of contract. Why is it different for the government??

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    • I totally agree, we entered into a contract with the promise to pay National Insurance contributions and tax this payment in turn would cover us for NHS treatment and to provide us with a state pension at the age of 60. I personally do not accept that it is a benefit, as there are no other benefits that are contributory. As you say had this been taken from us by a private company, who moved the goal posts from 60 to 66 without any consultation or notification because they had robbed the pot the government would have been jumping up and down just like they did with the BHS boss (Green) !!! So in all fairness why do they think it’s different for them ??

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  15. I hope this happens, I am meant to retire in September but I can’t afford to, I have no private pension and had no idea I had to work till I am 66, I found out by chance when I was 59 chatting to a woman where I worked at the time..I was horrified..no time to do anything about it and no one sent me any letter or email to advise me of the change…

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  16. David can you explain exactly what “clout” this Tribunal has please? As far as I can see this is not CEDAW itself pursuing this, nor is the UK Justice system as in a UK Tribunal. It seems to be just a gathering of personal evidence and personal opinions to lead to a report which hopes that the UK Government might take notice of it which I personally doubt will happen.

    I see many women commenting on Social Media that this will overturn the Judgement of the JR when clearly it cannot. It would be good if you could do a report detailing exactly what we can expect from this People’s Tribunal and especially covering its chances of changing anything.

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  17. Thank you for following this up and keeping us informed. I am highly surprised that women’s pensions are being reviewed, even though there have been decades of blatant discrimination, and, for a couple of seconds, allowed optimism to creep in.Unfortunately, I strongly believe that, even if this group denounces the decisions made to date on Backto60s pensions and has the authority to pusue and rectify it, the government will do what it did to the Haemophilliacs tainted by infected blood: ignore and then delay until many affected have died off.

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  18. There is rarely coverage of gender discrimination. It’s the most critical issue on Earth, yet major news networks don’t discuss it. Women make up half of the world’s population. We need to take global actions that have significant impact on men in order to force passage of laws. Women’s rights aren’t supported by men & they hold the power to change things for us, therefore, we need to change tactics. What we’ve been doing does not work well, is not enough & is too slow. The biggest reason women cannot advance is men’s lack of support. Men don’t care.

    Like

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